Piriformis Strengthening Exercises

Crossing your leg over your body can help stretch your piriformis muscle.
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If you suffer from pain deep inside your hip as you stand, climb stairs or walk, it's possible that your piriformis muscle is tight, inflamed or irritated. The piriformis muscle runs along the inside of your hip bone and connects the sacrum, found at the bottom of your spine, to the top of your thigh bone, or femur. The sciatic nerve typically runs beneath it; however, in some cases, the sciatic nerve actually runs through the piriformis muscle. Inflammation or tightness of the piriformis can lead to sciatica-like pain -- leg pain that can include tingling that runs down your leg and into your feet. Strengthening your piriformis muscle can help make your hips move more efficiently and help reduce pain.

Sitting Exercise

Even if you're not ready for a full workout, you can fit some exercise into your day at the office or while you're home watching television. You can use a resistance band to strengthen your piriformis muscle while sitting in a chair. With your knees together, slide a resistance band over your legs until it rests just above your knees. Keep your feet together and open your knees. Bring your knees back together, controlling the movement. Repeat for one minute. Rest one minute, then repeat for another minute. Continue until you've worked your hips for five minutes.

Exercise While Lying Down

You can strengthen your piriformis muscle while lying down using an ankle weight. Lie on your right side with your hip and shoulder on the floor. Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle, keeping your left leg straight. To create resistance, place the ankle weight over your right thigh. Lift your right leg, keeping it bent, high enough so it crosses the midline of your body, or higher than your belly button. Pause with your leg off the ground, then release. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Kneeling Exercise

A hip extension exercise can help develop and strengthen the piriformis muscle. Kneel on the floor and lean forward until your body is resting on your hands and knees with your arms straight. Lift one leg behind you, keeping the knee bent. Push the bottom of your foot up toward the ceiling until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Lower the leg and repeat. Perform two sets of 20 repetitions on each leg.

Standing Exercise

You can work your hip with full side motion using a resistance band. Attach the a resistance band to something secure, such as a closed door or wall hook, and then slide the other end around your outside ankle -- the one farthest from the wall or door. Keep the leg straight and pull it out to the side away from your body. Lower the leg and cross it slightly in front of the stationary leg, then repeat for two sets of 20 repetitions on each leg. Try to lift your leg as high as you comfortably can to increase flexibility while you strengthen the piriformis muscle.

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